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Pangea Theater hosts workshop for 'Food and Fadwa'

​Finding space to develop a new show in New York City can be a challenge, so much so that it can be helpful to just get out of town.

The creators of Food and Fadwa have traveled halfway across the country to present a workshop production of their piece at Pangea World Theater, which will premiere Off-Broadway in 2012 as a co-production of the New York Theatre Workshop and Noor Theatre.

"It's a pipe dream to get this," says director Shana Gold, one of the five New Yorkers who has traveled to Minneapolis for the two-week process. "It's very difficult to get two weeks in New York, and to have an opportunity to stage the piece, with scripts in hand, and to make changes all the way through."

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Food and Fadwa centers on Fadwa, a thirtysomething Palestinian dealing with the everyday troubles of life, from love to aging parents, all while living in the occupied West Bank. It's been written by Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader. Issaq also plays the title role.

While the subject may sound heavy, there's a lot of humor in it. "It's a joyous occasion in a very painful context. When people are faced with challenges, they use humor," Gold says.

The staged reading helps in a number of ways, from working out how to interact with props to developing the piece's dramaturgy. "This play has a special circumstance because one of the playwrights is the lead actress, so for her to act and listen at the same time is arduous. This workshop production is a safer place for her, so when we get to New York, she can focus more on the acting and less on the writing part," Gold says.

New York Theatre Workshop has worked with the playwrights for three years on the script, starting with a reading of the first act. Since then, there have been several workshops, including ones at Vassar and Dartmouth. Along the way, Noor Theatre joined in the process as a co-producer.http://noortheatre.org/

Another advantage of coming to the Twin Cities is a fresh audience. "When you do readings, you have people who are predisposed to liking it, so a fresh audience can give you a new perspective on the work," Gold says.

The connection to the Twin Cities came from Mizna, a local Arab American arts organization. "We learned that Food and Fadwa was looking for a place to workshop for staging, writing, and to get it ready for prime time. We love to champion Arab American work and Pangea, another like-minded organization, had the theater expertise," says Lana Barkawi, the organization's executive and artistic director.

For audiences, "they need to remember it is a workshop. It's something that is a step beyond a reading, but it is still in development. It's not a slick, polished production," Gold says.

IF YOU GO:

Food and Fadwa

7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Donations are suggested for admission

Pangea World Theater (711 W. Lake St., Minneapolis)